Glentoran 0 Dungannon Swifts 0: Glentoran missed the opportunity to go within a point of second placed Crusaders as they were held to a goalless draw by hard-working Dungannon Swifts at the Oval last night.
The east-Belfast men still have a game in hand over the Crues, but the way they are playing — coupled with a serious lack of a goalscoring threat — you wouldn't put serious money on the three points being clawed back any time soon.
As has been the case for a majority of Glentoran's home games this season, they started brightly and had a couple of early chances to go in front.
Daryl Fordyce was playing in a more central role up front — where he is more comfortable — with Andy Waterworth put wide on the right and his eighth minute shot from 14 yards at an angle looked destined for goal, but was deflected wide by a defender on its way.
From that corner, the former Northern Ireland under-21 international showed his prowess in the air when he rose highest to get onto the end of a David Howland set piece and Sean O'Neill in the Dungannon Swifts goal had to be alert to palm the ball around the post.
While those were decent opportunities, the Glens' failure to be clinical in front of goal — a major bugbear of boss Scott Young — was evident once again as on 12 minutes the home side really should have gone in front.
Dermot McCaffrey laboured on the ball and under pressure from Richard Clarke, cannoned his attempted clearance off the midfielder, allowing Clarke to race through on goal, only to shoot straight at O'Neill.
Swifts seemed content to soak up the pressure and hit Glentoran on the break and they were more than adept at doing that, with their pacey midfield getting forward in numbers when the opportunity arose.
Central to that was Michael Funston, who in the 14th minute took advantage of a Glens side slow to make a tackle and he moved forward 30 yards with the ball before unleashing a fine effort which just dipped over the bar.
Most of the action remained at the other end though and on 23 minutes another gilt-edged chance went begging as the unmarked Fordyce managed to head wide of goal from around four yards after a cross from the right by Waterworth.
You could almost sense that Young was getting frustrated already — the criticism of his team's failure to put away chances when offered them, clearly wasn't causing any effect and there must have been a worry that, just like on Saturday when they missed another bagful and in the end conceded an injury time penalty, the Glens would be punished.
In a bid to counter that fear, Young replaced the ineffective Neal Gawley at half-time and brought on Matty Burrows up front.
However, it was the visitors who had the first chance to break the deadlock after the break when Johnny Topley sent in a great cross from the left which found Michael Ward sliding in, but having connected, the effort was saved by the feet of Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris and was eventually cleared.
Then on 51 minutes Swifts striker Timmy Adamson wasn't far off with a long range shot that flew just wide.
Swifts looked in complete control in the second-half as the rain poured down over east-Belfast and Glentoran found it difficult to move the ball around, such was the intensity of the visitors play as Dixie Robinson's men hassled and harried every time the Glens were in possession.
It made for an unentertaining spectacle, but Robinson won't have complained too much about that.
As time ticked on, a draw, which would have been a fair result, looked inevitable.
Neither side really threatened to break the deadlock and in fairness the incessant rain was playing its part, too.
Adamson forced a decent save from Morris in the 82 minute, but that was as close as anyone came to scoring and the scoreline reflected what was a dire game on a dire night.
GLENTORAN: Morris, McGovern, Nixon, Leeman, Hill, Gawley (Burrows 46), Howland, Clarke, Fordyce, Gibson (Callacher 65), Waterworth: Subs: Ward, Johnny Taylor, Gardiner.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: S O'Neill, R O'Neill, Montgomery, McCaffrey, JP Gallagher, McCluskey, Henderson, Funston (Fitzpatrick 88), Topley (McIlmoyle 77), Ward, Adamson (Mullan 90). Subs: Mullan, McIlmoyle, Lavery, Mulgrew.
Referee: Alan Black (Antrim).